Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman visited congressional leaders in Washington on Wednesday to discuss diplomatic and regional issues and talk about Saudi Arabia’s new economic reforms.
Prince Mohammed met with Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) along with the Senate Armed Services Committee, including Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) as well as other leaders who expressed praise for the Deputy Crown Prince and Minister of Defense.
Senator Cotton called the meeting “a productive and open exchange.”
“Our main focus was our mutual security interests, including counterterrorism efforts against al-Qaeda and the Islamic State and the threat posed by Iran’s aggression in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, and the broader Middle East,” Mr. Cotton said, according to the Wall Street Journal.
According to Reuters, the Senators were impressed with the young prince’s goals to move Saudi Arabia beyond oil with its “Vision 2030” economic plan. Republican Senator Bob Corker, who chairs the Foreign Relations committee, said “”I know that there are tremendous cultural challenges that he’ll have to overcome, but if he’s 50 percent successful, it will be something,” according to Reuters.
Another U.S. Senator, Chris Coons (D-Delaware) said the Vision 2030 plan was “a fairly compelling vision,” and that Prince Mohammed presented, “an interesting, detailed and engaging presentation of his economic vision, and then how that translates to regional stability.”
“He clearly expressed in detail a vision for the Saudi economic strategy, security strategy, and the reason why he sees the relationship with the United States important for the country,” Senator Ben Cardin (D-Maryland) said Tuesday after meeting Prince Mohammed, according to Bloomberg. “He’s very impressive.”
The Deputy Crown Prince was accompanied by Adel Al-Jubeir, Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister and former Ambassador to the United States, and Prince Abdullah bin Faisal bin Turki, Saudi Arabia’s current Ambassador to the U.S.
Prince Mohammed bin Salman also met with Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker.
“Vision 2030″ calls for the most significant reforms to Saudi Arabia’s economy and society in decades. The National Transformation Program (NTP) is a key economic framework for implementing Vision 2030 and it identifies responsibilities for 24 government agencies as well as setting performance indicators for each aspect of the NTP.
“There’s the immediate opportunity that is presented by the prospect of the privatization, an IPO, of some part of Saudi Aramco. You will see investment houses actively pursuing that opening,” SUSTG’s Richard Wilson told Al Arabiya on the eve of the visit. “They are also treating the new Saudi economic program as a potential entree into other investment opportunities in the Kingdom.”
On this trip the Deputy Crown Prince has remained below the radar to the press and to all but top business executives and government leaders in Washington, but his visit to the United States is anything but a vacation.
Prince Mohammed bin Salman is set to visit with Secretary of Defense Ash Carter on Thursday and may visit the White House on Friday, but is still not currently listed on President Obama’s schedule. On Thursday he will also visit the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to meet with it’s President, Tom Donohue, and top business leaders from the private sector.
And that’s just the Washington leg of his three-stop trip to the United States.
On Saturday, he will fly to San Francisco to meet with top business and tech leaders on the West coast.
Then the Prince and his delegation will visit New York City to meet with top business leaders. He will also visit the United Nations, where a rare, recent spat between Ban Ki Moon and Saudi diplomats spilled into the public eye.